An Imperial Ministry
Isaiah 60:1-12
Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you.…

This is a great statesman's vision unveiling the moral and spiritual possibilities of a people. The prophet is primarily addressing his speech to an awakening nation. To direct a nation's views is to shape its policies, and to determine the trend and colour of its life. What, then, shall be the elements of an efficient and fruitful ideal? "The Lord shall arise upon thee," etc. (vers. 2, 3). What are the constituent elements in the vision? "Light " and "glory. A certain light, the element of illumination, charity, and simplicity of thought; a certain heat, the element of fervour, warm and expansive sympathies; a certain gravity, the element of impressiveness, weight and strength of moral principle. But the glory of the ideal is still further enriched and intensified. We cannot take Isaiah's ideal and employ it with Isaiah's limitation; we must carry over his vocabulary into the fuller day and let it receive enlargement in the life and mind of Christ. "Light," interpreted by the character of the Master, means the absence of shady compromise, sunlit definiteness of purpose, the clear discernment of essentials. " Heat," interpreted by the character of the Master, means, an ardent inclusiveness of sympathy, cosmopolitan in its pervasion. "Gravity, glory, interpreted by the character of the Master, is significant of moral weight, incorruptible spiritual ambition, unconquerable virtue, whether illustrated in the light of a marriage-feast, or in the sombre experience of Pilate's judgment-bar. "Arise! ", Stand erect and set thy face towards the burning vision, and thou shalt "shine' with reflected glory. By contemplating the Divine thou shalt incarnate the heart of thy contemplation. "The Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, ' and thy imperial treasure shall be found in thy shining notabilities, in the radiant motives and ambitions of thy common life. We have seen this transfiguring ministry at work in the life of the individual. But we may be more than a little doubtful as to whether the vision will also serve and ennoble the community. Well, where is the line of transition? Surely, even in the nation we have again and again witnessed the transforming influence of the grand ideal. It was even so with the later experiences of the eighteenth century. The breaking up of formality, the melting of callousness, the opening out of rivers of philanthropy, the enlarged and sweetened life of our people, the enlightened measure of emancipation, can be directly traced to a "strange warming of the nation's heart," resulting from a restored contemplation of the light and glory of God. The prophet's vision reveals an imperial deal, and unveils the only permanent imperial treasure.

1. The imperial character is to be creative of imperial unity (ver. 4). There is to be an enrichment of the home, a consolidation of the family, a knitting together of the finer fellowships of the nation. And mark how this statesman describes the large characteristics of the communion. "Then shalt thou see and flow together." It is to be an open-eyed communion, an illumined, society, a fellowship of transparent aims and aspirations. "Thine heart shall fear; the fellowship is not to be flippant, light-hearted, and vain; it is to be possessed by the pervasive influence of reverence, that saving element which preserves the sense of true perspective, and gives everything the setting of a just proportion. "And be enlarged; the fellowship is not to be fixed and exclusive; its sympathies are to be elastic and expansive, reaching out in ever enlarging circles of interest and regard.

2. The imperial unity is to be the minister of a world-wide illumination. "And nations shall come to thy light," etc. (ver. 3). If this be the true portrayal of imperial welfare, may we not infer the consequent obligations which rest upon the leaders of the people? The first essential of efficient public ministry is a large and exalted aim. The true aim of every true leader is to build up the moral energy of the people. To give ourselves to the production of superior men — this is the aim which should possess the minds and hearts of all who exercise leadership among their fellow-men. An aim like this, definitely and personally expressed, and pursued with undeviating consistency, will preserve a man from those perils of benumbment which seem to attach themselves to every public ministry.

(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

WEB: "Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of Yahweh is risen on you.

An Arousing Call
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